12 Aug Meet Our Judges – Shakara Barnes
The Honorable Shakara Barnes
Appointed to the Court:
Northern Circuit: Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, and Walker
Southern Circuit: Appling, Bacon, Bleckley, Brantley, Charlton, Clinch, Dodge, Emanuel, Jeff Davis, Johnson, Laurens, Montgomery, Pierce, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Twiggs, Ware, Wheeler, and Wilkinson
Bachelor of Arts: Political Science – Florida A&M University
Bachelor of Arts: French – Florida A&M University
Juris Doctorate – Howard University School of Law
Durham, North Carolina
OSAH’s Newest Judge
Judge Barnes is the Georgia Administrative Court’s newest Judge and brings a wealth of litigation and regulatory experience to the bench. According to Judge Barnes, her role as a judge “is more fulfilling than expected and extremely rewarding. Being a judge is never boring or monotonous. We handle so many case types that there is always something new and interesting to consider.”
A Lifelong Calling
Since an early age, Judge Barnes states she was drawn to the legal profession. According to Judge Barnes, “Early in life, I recognized the impact that a good attorney can make on a person, a family, a business, a city, and even a society. The law plays a central role in so many key aspects of our lives – it affects housing, employment, marriage, government, business, taxes, technology, healthcare, education and more. I felt that I could make a difference by practicing law.”
Extensive Litigation & Regulatory Experience
Prior to joining OSAH in 2018, Judge Barnes first worked with Troutman Sanders’ litigation team and then as legal counsel for Deutsche Bank.
At Troutman Sanders, Judge Barnes was a member of its Business Litigation and Securities Litigation practice groups. According to Judge Barnes, “I was able to cut my teeth and hone my craft with top professionals in the industry.” Judge Barnes’ cases involved allegations of fraud and misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and a variety of business torts. She also managed cases involving product liability and complex matters involving employment, real estate, contracts, corporate espionage, and misappropriation.
In 2009, Judge Barnes was selected as the Troutman Sanders Fellow for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. In this role, Judge Barnes successfully handled a high volume of matters, including unemployment benefits appeals, family law disputes, commercial disputes, bankruptcy, dispossessory actions and housing grievances. She also served on Troutman Sanders’ Pro Bono Committee, Recruiting Committee, and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Following her tenure at Troutman Sanders, Judge Barnes worked at Deutsche Bank as Litigation and Regulatory Enforcement Counsel. There Judge Barnes partnered with outside counsel, developed strategies, and reviewed pleadings concerning the bank and its legal entities. In addition, Judge Barnes served as Deutsche Bank’s Vice-Chair of the global Association of Corporate Counsel’s (ACC) New to In-House Committee and on its Steering Committee.
Covering Georgia’s Diverse Geography
Judge Barnes’s judicial circuit covers the southernmost point of Georgia to the mountains of Northwest Georgia. She presides over hearings in 24 of Georgia’s 159 counties. According to Judge Barnes, “Even though my circuit is geographically diverse, the litigants I encounter throughout the state share many commonalities. I enjoy meeting so many different people and learning about their lives. I am truly fortunate to serve so many people.”
Commitment to Fair Application of the Law
Judge Barnes presides over hundreds of cases every year and believes no two cases are alike. As a result, she takes copious notes during each hearing and conducts extensive research to fully understand the nuanced and novel legal questions that arise in each case. Judge Barnes then pieces together the facts, applies those facts to the law, and reaches a decision. However, before she issues her decision, Judge Barnes always steps away from the decision and returns to it later with fresh eyes to ensure she has considered all the legal questions at hand and fairly applied the law to that particular dispute.
Further, Judge Barnes believes “evidence” and “empathy” are the keys to being a good judge. She explains, “It’s vital that a judge learn the rules and apply them fairly. When I’m presiding over a hearing, I like being able to assure the litigants in my courtroom that I will decide each case impartially, on its merits, and with empathy.”
Advice on How to Prepare for a Hearing
Judge Barnes encourages all participants to visit the Frequently Asked Questions section and review the sample documents on OSAH’s web site before their hearing. She believes the FAQs and sample documents provide a wealth of information that can help participants prepare for their hearings-especially if they do not have an attorney to represent them. Judge Barnes also advises, “Don’t be afraid or intimated. We are independent judges and our primary function is to conduct a fair hearing and reach the correct decision under the law.”
Further, Judge Barnes encourages all attorneys to be prepared and to act with integrity. She said, “It’s important that attorneys understand the law and do not exaggerate the facts to make their case seem stronger than it actually is. Further, attorneys need to conduct themselves ethically at all times.”
Judge Barnes is passionate about serving her local community. She volunteers with her church, as well as the Georgia Association of Black Women and the Gate City Bar Association. She also supports organizations such as the East Atlanta Kids Club. Judge Barnes has also served on a variety of professional and community organizations such as the State Bar of Georgia’s Diversity Program and the Deutsche Bank Multicultural Partnership.
Beyond the Bench
When Judge Barnes is not on the bench, she enjoys volunteering in the community, traveling, bowling, listening to live music, spending time with family and friends, and occasionally binge-watching Netflix. Judge Barnes also enjoys listening to podcasts. She said, “They are informative and entertaining and perfect for a multi-tasker like me, as I can listen to a podcast while doing something else!”